South Carolina conservatives celebrate getting the Heartbill Bill past a legislative barrier which makes it one step closer to becoming a law.
The South Carolina Senate voted 30-13 on Thursday in favor of the Heartbeat Bill, a bill that would illegalize aborting an unborn baby after a fetal heartbeat is detected.
A fetal heartbeat is usually detected around six weeks after conception. The bill is applicable to everyone except for when an abortion process is needed to be performed in order to save a pregnant woman's life.
Although, conservatives said that the Heartbeat Bill is not their end game. The ultimate goal for a number of abortion activists is a law called "personhood law," which states that life begins at conception.
This law seeks to classify fertilized eggs, zygotes, embryos, and fetuses as "persons" and grant them full legal protection under the U.S. Constitution, including the right to life. Personhood law also has no exceptions which means it would criminalize any forms of contraception, in vitro fertilization, and health care for childbearing women.
Even though this law is a favorite tactic of "anti-choice" activists, efforts to pass this law have met with such little success.
The Heartbeat Bill that passed the Senate this week is not the only abortion-related bill that was filed: at least 8 other proposals were filed. There are House and Senate bills that declare life begins at conception and there are other proposals including one that requires a doctor to tell women who are given pills to cause an abortion that it can be reversed after one dose and to ban a rarely used product called dismemberment abortions. Dismemberment abortion is a common and brutal type of abortion that is done by dismembering an unborn baby piece by piece.
Representative John McCravy, who often takes the lead on abortion restrictions in the House, wants South Carolina to ban abortions too. But the Greenwood Republicans expect no changes tto the bill that has been passed by the Senate this week to make it more restrictive. Any changes would have to be approved again by the Senate.
According to the Winston-Salem Journal, McCravy wants to focus on the Heartbeat Bill for now as he is not sure if the House will look at any other abortion-related legislation this year. But there is plenty of time within the two-year session.
"Maybe before the session is out. But right now we are concentrating on the heartbeat bill," McCravy said.
This week's Senate debate showed that while Republicans have made critical gains in the Senate, the three seats picked up from Democrats in November may be crucial to this bill and there may not be enough support to go any further.
Senator Sandy Senn of Charleston, a Republican, voted against the bill. Another Republican also did not support the bill unless the bill exempts pregnancies caused by rape and incest, the Senator said. Those exemptions were added quietly and there were no votes this week to determine if any other Republicans could support a more restrictive bill. Although, Democrats will still fight the restrictions.
"If they wanted to be genuine about what they believe, they should introduce a constitutional amendment to ban abortions," Senate Minority Leader Brad Hutto said, emphasizing on the money wasted on court fights over the issue while opponents ignore a different way to get what they want.
"They don't have the votes for that. They don't have the stomach for that."
Holly Gatling, South Carolina Citizens For Life Executive Director, handed out a chart that shows abortions performed in 2019 (around 5,100 abortions) is significantly lower after abortion restrictions have been passed, compared to that of 1988 with more than 14,000 abortions performed.
"We want to save everyone," Gatling said just outside the Senate chamber.
Senator Larry Grooms and Holly Gatling went on Facebook Live after Thursday's votes and thanked God for sending more Republicans to the South Carolina Senate which paved the way for the Heartbeat Bill.
"I'm at a happy place right now. Today is the culmination of 24 years worth of work," Grooms told reporters. "Let's let this bill take effect."